SB Nation Boston
Stay connected for news and updates Follow @sbnationboston
Like us to subscribe
BOSTON - There were quite a few trucks on the roadways of Boston on Tuesday morning, but one particular truck took center stage outside of Fenway Park.
This was no ordinary truck, either (well, actually, the truck itself was relatively normal, but its contents were rather important). This truck was hauling equipment to the Boston Red Sox' Spring Training facility, and by extension, issuing in the start of the 2011 baseball season.
Red Sox fans gathered in large numbers to celebrate Truck Day early on Tuesday morning to watch movers load up a moving truck with all sorts of baseball related goodies before beginning the 1,480-mile trip to Fort Myers, Fla.
"I saw it this morning watching the news," said Red Sox fan and Pennsylvania resident Richard Tshudy, who came up to Boston for the 2011 Beanpot and took part in the Truck Day festivities on Tuesday morning. "Watching the news this morning, I said ‘Oh yeah, let's do this.'"
Truck Day has become the unofficial start of the baseball season, but it hasn't always been that way. The popularity surrounding Truck Day picked up steam following Boston's 2004 World Series victory. Ever since, it has brought feelings of excitement, hope and joy to Red Sox fans citywide.
"With the Red Sox picking up Carl Crawford and Bobby Jenks, they're going to have an exciting team this year," Tshudy said. "If they stay healthy, unlike last year, they should score a ton of runs."
Lifelong Red Sox fan Carole Viator was along among the hundreds of fans that gathered outside of Fenway Park to watch the mover load up the truck.
"I love the Red Sox, [I'm a] huge fan," said Viator, whose grandfather played for the Boston Braves back in the 1930s.
"I wanted to come out here, especially today because I'm going to Fort Myers," Viator said. "I'm going to see them play a couple of games there and then go up to Tampa Bay to watch them play the Yankees."
The Truck Day celebration in Boston is somewhat of an anomaly, considering that the Red Sox are the only team that have made an unofficial holiday out of their annual moving day.
"The Red Sox share everything with the fans," said Viator. "They have this special day, they invite the fans to come out, they have Wally come out. They throw a little something for each event that they have."
The official start date of the baseball season in Boston isn't until Feb. 14, when pitchers and catchers report. Position players report on Feb. 18, and the Red Sox play their first game on Feb. 26 against Northeastern University and Boston College.
Based on the level of enthusiasm at Truck Day, Red Sox fans have their hearts set on the World Series. Two fans even brought signs that read "World Series, Or Bust."
"I don't ever like to count my chickens before they're hatched," Tshudy said when asked for his prediction for the 2011 Red Sox season. "It's a 162-game schedule, it's a long year. I'd certainly like to think that they have a great shot, but the key is staying healthy. If they stay healthy, they'll be in the mix."
On Tuesday -- better known as Truck Day -- at 12 p.m., the 2011 Boston Red Sox (un)officially began when the huge equipment truck, fully packed with the team's uniforms, bats and glove and other necessities for Spring Training, closed its door and drove away from Fenway Park, heading south for City of Palms Park.
The truck is driven by Al Hartz, who's had the job since 1998. He expects to reach Florida by Thursday, assuming there are no delays. Pitchers and catchers report on Sunday. "This is a lot of fun," driver Al Hartz said. "This is something special."
"My office has had calls from, like, Red Sox booster clubs asking if the truck can stop and visit them on the way down, but we just don't do stuff like that," Hartz said with a laugh. "People are a little nuts about the Sox. I mean this just kinda proves it, watching the truck get loaded and drive away."
The moving truck is being loaded outside Fenway Park in anticipation of its 12 p.m. EST departure for the City of Palms Park, signaling the beginning of Spring Training and the unofficial start of the 2011 Boston Red Sox season.
Our own Gethin Coolbaugh is on the scene at Fenway Park, where the truck is being loaded and fans are beginning to gather. He offers this report (as well as all the photos today):
When I arrived at Truck Day at 9 a.m., and the movers were already busy loading the truck. I wondered if the weather would damper the spirits of fans and result in low turn out. But sure enough, fans began to arrive around 10 and more continue to trickle in to watch the truck leave for Fort Myers at noon. Clearly this winter weather is no match for enthusiastic Red Sox fans.
Maybe Truck Day isn't so exciting after all ...
Gethin was also able to capture a shot of the movers loading a Lego model of Fenway Park into the truck. Definitely a very important thing to have at Spring Training:
Welcome to Truck Day, Red Sox fans.
The unofficial start to the 2011 season is here, marked by the large moving truck that sits in front of Fenway Park Tuesday morning. The 18-wheeled truck is currently being loaded up with the team's equipment for Spring Training. It will begin the 1500-mile drive to City of Palms Park on Tuesday, with the Red Sox' pitchers and catchers set to report on Sunday.
It is obviously silly to get excited about a truck. But obviously it represents much more for Red Sox fans (so, hey, still kinda silly!) -- it's the start of Spring Training, and the start of a whole new season. From Over The Monster:
One week till pitchers and catchers report. Ten days until everyone else joins them. Just three weeks from the Red Sox playing baseball, even if it isn't for keeps just yet.
It's baseball season. Y'all ready?
At the moment, the City of Palms Park is mostly empty. Aside from Jonathan Papelbon, who's started his spring training early in hopes of rebounding from a disappointing 2010, the Red Sox are spread across the country. Even the equipment remains safely stored away in Fenway Park.
That's all due to change starting on Tuesday, when a truck will pull up outside of Fenway, pick up the necessary supplies from its depths, and start the 1,200-mile haul to Florida. This will be accompanied by the usual pomp and ceremony that only Red Sox Nation could dream up for so mundane an event, as team ambassadors meet and greet fans to finally, after four long and (especially this year) hard months of winter, welcome back the baseball season.
Though pitchers and catchers aren't due to report until Feb. 14, invariably, as Jonathan Papelbon has already done, some will choose to arrive early. Others have a head start. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, for instance, spent much of the offseason on the opposite side of the peninsula, taking a crash-course on catcher defense.
While Sox fans no longer get to enjoy the drama of wondering when exactly Manny Ramirez will show up for camp, there are still stories to follow for the entire month-and-a-half. Seeing Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford in Red Sox paraphernalia that doesn't have to go over a suit will be a landmark moment, and the progress of the former's recovery from off-season surgery will be interesting to keep an eye on.
Also worth consideration are the unofficial position battles. Though the roster seems to be set publicly speaking, Hideki Okajima and Marco Scutaro are very likely to face pressure from Felix Doubront and Jed Lowrie respectively. Their performances in spring training could be enough to force a move from Tito.
Here are the key dates to keep an eye on as we move closer and closer to baseball season: